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NSA’s bulk collection of telephone data is ruled illegal

The National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone data isn’t legal, a federal appeals court said just weeks before the law the government used to justify the program is set to expire. A three-judge panel in New York held Thursday that the program goes beyond the authority granted by the Patriot Act, a law passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that expanded government surveillance and data collection. A lower- court judge had said the program is legal. The appeals court didn’t rule on arguments raised by the American Civil Liberties Union that that the program violates constitutional free-speech guarantees and protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. The judges also declined to issue a court order blocking the program as Congress weighs changes to surveillance laws.

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